Unlike past three years (2010, 2011, and 2012), I did not read a lot in 2013. Perhaps this is due to all the time and energy that went into church planting work, and not to mention, my new found hobby (i.e., going to A’s game). The following is the list of what I read in chronological order:
- The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul
- Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Tim Keller
- The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller
- The Acts of the Holy Spirit by A.T. Pierson
- The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love by Jonathan Leeman
- Transforming Prayer by Daniel Henderson
- Intro in Exodus (New American Commentary), by Douglas K. Stuart
- Intro in Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary by Victor Hamilton
- Is Jesus in the Old Testament? by Iain Duguid
- Let Us Pray: A symposium on prayer by leading preachers and theologians by R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, etc.
- The Lord’s Prayer by Thomas Watson
- Dangerous Calling, by Paul Tripp
- The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller
- Christ-Centered Worship by Bryan Chapell
- The Secret Providence of God by John Calvin
Hence, this year I read 15 books, totaling 2,926 pages. Of course, this does not include commentaries, theological journals, and other reading for sermon preparation.
If I had to pick top two books from 2013 it would definitely have to be Dangerous Calling and Christ-Centered Worship. The former is written for pastors by a pastor. It truly captures sobering reality why some are in ministry and why some (actually, many) should not be. It was a powerful reminder that giftedness does not equal to godliness or maturity. In fact, here is one of my favorite quotes:
Maturity is not merely something you do with your mind (although that is an important element of spiritual maturity). No, maturity is about how you live your life. It is possible to be theologically astute and be very immature. It is possible to be biblically literate and be in need of significant spiritual growth…There is a huge difference between knowledge and wisdom (25-26).
If there is one book every pastor (and every wannabe) needs to read it is this.
The latter is written by a former seminary president (now a pastor) on perhaps the most important subject in today’s church – worship. To be more specific, corporate worship. I have read a lot on this subject (and still do) because how we worship as a church is reflection of what we believe. Our theology is best expressed not only in our doxology but also in liturgy. All that is to say, not only who we worship is important but also how we worship matters.
One of my pet peeves is the inconsistency between orthodoxy and orthopraxy. I meet people who say they love the doctrines of grace and Reformed faith, yet have no clue what that looks like in corporate worship service. The average church goers do not ask, Why do we worship the way we worship? Some will say that is because that’s the way it always have been. But that does not answer the question why. How is it possible to love Calvinistic soteriology and Reformed faith, and love man-centered worship service?
In Reformed faith, corporate worship tells the gospel by the way we worship. According to Chapell, “Christian worship is a ‘re-presentation’ of the gospel. By our worship we extol, embrace, and share the story of the progress of the gospel in our lives” (116). Even the “order of worship” conveys an understanding of the gospel (18). Our liturgy or the way we worship indeed communicates something about God, ourselves, and the gospel. The author says, “Because they have not been taught to think of the worship service as having gospel purposes, people instinctively think of its elements only in terms of personal preference: what makes me feel good, comfortable, or respectful” (21).
Christ-Centered Worship is a must read for all Christians if you seek to understand this vital subject biblically, theologically, historically, and practically.